Sunday, May 20, 2018

The interview | Matt Colvan, Sales and Marketing Director, 5m Publishing

The interview: Matt Colvan has worked within the events and publishing sector for nearly 20 years, experience which stood him in good stead when 5m Publishing acquired the UK’s biggest aquaculture trade show, Aquaculture UK. After a successful first exhibition in 2016, the biannual show is about to run again in 2018 and is fast becoming Europe’s one-stop-shop for professionals in the global industry.
In the role of Sales and Marketing Director, a position he has held for nearly six years, Matt has been the driving force behind the show, which will be held in Aviemore, Scotland between May 23-24, 2018. Here, the De Montfort University graduate talks with International Aquafeed about the show which he says has “firmly established itself as an important and truly international trade event for the aquaculture industry.”

What has been your part in the organisation of Aquaculture UK? And what makes you the right person for such an exciting role?
Since we acquired the show in 2015 it’s been my aim to deliver the exhibition with the same professionalism and industry expertise that has allowed its reputation to grow over the years, and to increase its ambition. As we near our second round in 2018 I think we’re achieving this, with record delegate and exhibitor numbers and increasing interest from global, not just UK players. 2020 will be a huge year for us, as we build on the success so far.
Delivering important industry events like this really is my passion. As well as the fun (and sometime frantic!) process of putting it all together, it’s an unparalleled forum for the finest minds in aquaculture to exchange ideas and do business – it really matters, and that’s a real thrill to be a part of.

Have you always been interested in aquaculture, how has your career led you to where you are now?
Before I joined 5m I worked as part of a team delivering clean power solutions to the energy sector – being involved in a better future for our planet seems only logical to me. The same is true of working in aquaculture – at the end of the day, everything I do is a contribution to a more sustainable world, no matter how small.

What can visitors look forward to especially this year at Aquaculture UK? What makes this show different to previous events?
This year, the show doesn’t stop in the exhibition tent. There’s also an action-packed conference programme including in-depth sessions from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the launch of 5m Publishing’s indispensable new manual on cleaner fish, and an exciting first – the Women in Aquaculture networking breakfast, featuring senior speakers from industry and government, which we encourage all delegates to attend for a stimulating discussion on the importance of diversity in the workforce.

This show is attracting people from all over the world – why do you think people have decided to make the international travel for the event, and do you think it is poised to be one of the most important events in the industry?
The aquaculture industry is a young, dynamic one, rapidly changing and developing. This energy is reflected in the exhibition this year, which has expanded beyond salmon to include shellfish and other species, and has attracted suppliers from outside the UK. It’s also simply bigger, with 50 percent more indoor exhibitor space than 2016, with more on show and improved services, including catering and conference facilities on site. In the outside space, our extended reach supports demonstrations of equipment including CleanTreat by Benchmark, AKVA group Scotland, Tideman Boats and Migdale transport, to name but a few.
We look forward to welcoming over 1,800 visitors over the two days. They’ll have the opportunity to view over 190 exhibitor stands, with 60 percent coming from the UK and Ireland and many from further afield, giving the show a truly international profile. Exhibitors include businesses from North America, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, India, Mauritius and China.

Focusing on Scottish aquaculture, it is quite the hub for salmon production, is salmon a major feature in this show in your opinion and what makes Scottish salmon an iconic product?
Salmon is absolutely the headline product, being second only to whisky in importance to Scotland’s economy. The UK aquaculture sector is also a world leader in terms of sustainability and welfare, and the quality of product we are able to produce as a result. But we’ve made great strides in representing other species of finfish and shellfish, as well as equipment providers, and I hope the show continues to develop to represent the industry more widely.

What can the exhibitors expect of the visitors, do you think there will be a dominance of a certain sector of the industry or a wide variety?
Our delegate profiles show a fantastic range of experts from all areas of the industry - from students to farm managers to academics and CEOs. I honestly believe that if you can think of role in UK aquaculture, it will be represented at this year’s show.

How do shows such as this help in the goal to create a sustainable food future for the world?
Our mission, as part of Benchmark Knowledge Services, is to create forums where the finest aquaculture research and products can be shared for the benefit of the industry, and Aquaculture UK is a perfect example. Representing a significant and growing sector of the economy – the second biggest Scottish export market after whisky – investment and innovation in aquaculture are vital both to the sustainability of the global protein supply and to a growing international network of people and businesses.

Aquaculture is recognised as the fastest growing industry in the world, why do you think this is and how do think industry professionals have a responsibility to ensure environmentally friendly and ethical farming?
The challenge of feeding the growing global population is well known, and doing so sustainably is at the core of our business. If the industry isn’t sustainable, it has no future – it’s as simple as that.

How is technology important to the future of the industry and how do you think we will continue to see its development?
There is already an extraordinary level of technological sophistication represented across the aquaculture industry, with cutting edge research represented everywhere at the show – Benchmark’s CleanTreat, for example, promises to revolutionise sea lice treatment while protecting the environment. The next big opportunity I can see is in data – we are only just beginning to understand how sharing and analysing what we can monitor between and across farms can do for the global challenges of biosecurity and sustainability.

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